How to Improve Content Strategy

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csa CONTENT STRATEGY ALLIANCE TOOLS& TEMPLATES A BEST PRACTICES HANDBOOK © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 What is Content Strategy? h dear…. It depends on who’s talking…. O At the Content Strategy Alliance, we define it as “Getting the right content to the right user at the right time through strategic planning of content creation, delivery and governance.” (This combines parts of the definitions put out there by Kevin P. Nichols and Kristina Halvorson.) The Digital Content Strategy Best Practice Guide by Econsultancy (that looked into issues, themes and challenges within content strategy) from February of 2014 found: “… there is a broad definition of content strategy. For some, the concept is more tightly focused on content marketing and fulfilling marketing-related objectives including driving awareness, customer acquisition or loyalty.” “For others, content strategy more broadly encompassed information architecture, content structure, origination, re-use and user experience. Most respondents, however, recognized that a fulsome definition of content strategy needed to incorporate an end-to-end process covering all these aspects.” The CSA acknowledges that content strategy is defined in more than one way: by practitioners, interested parties and companies large and small. And, in addition to content strategists, it is performed by people with various titles, including information architects, project managers, marketing managers, technical communicators, user and usability researchers, etc. (The 2014 Content Strategy Survey Report found that only 1/3 of respondents who reported doing content strategy held the title of content strategist.) The debate over content strategy will continue, but we hope this handbook will provide help for those working and possibly struggling through the end-to- end process of content strategy, or those wondering how to begin or expand a content strategy for their business. CONTENT STRATEGY csa ALLIANCE © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 11. Why Do You Need a Content Strategy? here are many books out there justifying why a content strategy is necessary and demonstrating the business value of a holistic and unified T content strategy. This work does not intend to replace those resources. We believe, in general, a unified content strategy: • Helps an organization figure out the most effective and useful content and make informed decisions about new content areas, tying such decisions to a larger, strategic framework. • Creates an approach to quantify and show the value of content within an organization. • Positions the right content and informs its continual creation and evolution, to meet business needs and objectives, while fulfilling a brand or organizational promise to a consumer. • Creates a process and maintains it for efficient and effective content publishing, from creation through to archiving. • Facilitates intelligent content and performance-driven content solutions. • Helps define processes, tools and resources to support content solutions. • Drives multichannel content solutions. • Reduces costs and creates a Return on Investment (ROI)-driven model for content (all content can be and should be a quantifiable business asset). Today we need to account for content at not just a document level, but at an object level. Documents may provide a structure, websites may yield a page, devices such as smartphones may serve up content, but today’s world demands an approach ridden with complexity and nuance. Many types of content live within documents or a larger experience, such as a website. We need formats that allow us to publish to many channels. Ann Rockley describes this type of content as “intelligent content” and posits: CONTENT STRATEGY csa ALLIANCE © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 12.“Content that is structurally rich and semantically categorized, and is therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable.” In this sense, a structure is the hierarchical order in which content occurs in an information product. Every organization produces content and frequently for many different consumers and for many different platforms. Often, semantic solutions drive the solution because semantically rich content means that machines can “understand” what to do with content and when to do it. Content strategy helps define and position all content for success, but especially intelligent content. The best practices, tools and deliverables outlined in this guide are intended to support the entire ecosystem that rich content experiences demand. CONTENT STRATEGY csa ALLIANCE © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 13.What is a Best Practice? “A set of guidelines, ethics or ideas that represent the most efficient or prudent course of action. Best practices are often set forth by an authority, such as a governing body or management, depending on the circumstances.” — Investopedia.com “A best practice is a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark. In addition, a ‘best’ practice can evolve to become better as improvements are discovered. Best practice is considered by some as a business buzzword, used to describe the process of developing and following a standard way of doing things that multiple organizations can use.” —Wikipedia So what are the best practices for content strategy? We have divided our choices into phases. (Depending on your project, you may do these tasks in a different order.) In each phase you might find: • Common deliverables you may need to create in that phase. • Steps to complete the deliverables. • Templates you can use to format your deliverables. • Some examples of finished deliverables. CONTENT STRATEGY csa ALLIANCE © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 14.How To Use This Handbook In compiling and laying out this handbook, we have tried to keep it simple, informative and above all useful. To do that we’ve tried to be as uniform as possible and anticipate and accommodate differing user styles and needs. We’ve adopted several conventions to make it easier...we hope. Page Types The handbook employs three different page types: 1. Narrative pages that provide our thoughts on content strategy processes and more. 2. The best practice pages that make up roughly half the document. 3. The example pages that follow each best practice and make up the other half. Note: The templates do not appear in the handbook but are downloadable in a number of ways either individually or collectively (see downloads below). Format Collectively the handbook has been published as an American letter size (8.5 x 11inch) PDF document and all pages are laid out in “portrait” format for ease of printing. Many of the examples are created in MS Excel and in some cases 100% scale exceeds the page length dimension. To make them viewable you will need to: 1. Click on the “View” tab on the tool bar at the top of your PDF viewer. 2. Select “Rotate View” from the dropdown menu and click on “Clockwise” = Shift+Ctrl+Plus 3. Click on the “zoom + button” to enlarge to 300% or whatever size is comfortable. 4. Remember to rotate the view back (“counter clockwise” = Shift+Ctrl+Minus) to continue portrait page viewing. Other examples that are of substantive length (more than 4-5 pages) have been included as separate stand-alone downloadable PDF documents for the sake of brevity. CONTENT STRATEGY csa ALLIANCE © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 15. MS Excel Comments In some cases comments have been used in MS Excel templates and examples to provide richer explanations, instructions or definitions. Placing your cursor over a Comments are indicated by a red triangle in the right- field that has a red triangle in the corner will cause a top corner of the relevant field. Hovering over the field comment pop-up to appear. will cause the comment pop-up to appear. You can remove these comments by performing the following steps: 1. Click on the field containing the comment. 2. Open the “REVIEW” tab on the top tool bar. 3. Click on the “DELETE” comment icon. Examples and Templates EXAMPLE To avoid confusion and for ease of reference: Template mastheads are blue. Example mastheads are orange. Downloads TEMPLATE There are a number of ways in which templates and examples can be downloaded either from the website or links within the handbook itself. Handbook Template ID & Link xxx-yyy-tmpl-01 Template download links are located in the top information bar of the best practices masthead. This allows you to download the individual template as Click on links to download templates you read the best practice. and examples The example that follows the best practice has an Example ID & Link example download link positioned xxx-yyy-xmpl-01 in the same location on the example page masthead. CONTENT STRATEGY csa ALLIANCE © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 16. At the end of the handbook Appendix 2 contains the indexed list of all of the best practice templates and examples. You can download each template or example individually as you may require or alternatively there is a download toolbox button that will allow you to download the complete set of tools. Website Copies of this handbook are available for download on the Content Strategy Alliance /Best Practices page. Additionally there is a toolbox button to download the complete set of templates and examples as well as an index of each template and example which can be downloaded separately as needed. CONTENT STRATEGY csa ALLIANCE © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 17.CONTENT STRATEGY csa ALLIANCE © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 18. PLANPlanning Phase uring this phase, the strategic intent, goals and objectives of the project will be identified. D Questions to answer are: ”How should success be measured?” ”Who are the decision makers?” ” What is the reason we are doing this?” CONTENT STRATEGY csa ALLIANCE © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 19.Pages Best Practice ID Version Created Author Template ID & Link cpb-pln-bp 01. MAR-2015 CSA-BPC cpb-pln-tmpl-01 1 of 1 Content Project Brief Here we define what the content project is (as opposed to the overall project as defined in the project brief created by the project manager), what it will take to complete it and the metrics used to define its success. These beginning metrics will be based on the objectives and goals of the project so we will know at the end of the project if it was successful. More detailed metrics might be defined later. Create a Project Brief: • Describe the project and list key deliverables and project requirements. • List the goals of the content, e.g., drive better understanding of a company’s products. • Define the type of content experience that will achieve the goals, if known, e.g., clearer messaging, more interactive content. (In the analyzing phase, you will assess the user/customer experience that will help further define these.) • Decide on the content analytics and metrics that will set the standards for measuring and evaluating whether a content project meets its stated goals. Will you use analytics, focus groups, user research, usability testing, multivariate testing, A/B testing or other methods? • What should be measured: views (website pages, videos, etc.), emails opened, tweets re-tweeted, wall posts shared, products and services sold or other criteria. Does the stakeholder wish to define internal metrics? (A common internal metric is operational efficiency: the ratio between inputs such as money, time and effort and the outputs such as money, greater productivity and quality. The goal is for output to be greater than input.) • How often will metrics be measured? • How will the metrics be used (e.g., to change the content on the site, determine company strategic direction)? • What will define success for the project? • Define the business, consumer and creative objectives. • Define the target audience. • What legal mandatories must be included? • What is the timing for the project and main milestones? • What is the main messaging? • Who are the competitors? • Describe the aesthetics (look and feel). CONTENT STRATEGY csa © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 ALLIANCE 20.Pages Best Practice ID Version Created Author Example ID & Link cpb-pln-bp 01. MAR-2015 CSA-BPC cpb-pln-xmpl-01 1 of 1 Content Project Brief Example Example ID Example ID & Version Phase Creation Date CONTENT PROJECT BRIEF EXAMPLE cpb-pln-xmpl-01 PLANNING MARCH, 2015 PROJECT: Cruise Line Video JOB 8000-14 ROLE PERSON(S) Content Strategy Lead Rhoda Carr Sandy Beach Project Manager Business Owner Chanda Lear Billy Kidd, Jesse James Stakeholders Account Manager Lou Alcindor Crispin Porter Creative Director Subject Matter Experts Jill Knowitall PROJECT ELEMENTS DESCRIPTION ADDITIONAL NOTES & COMMENTS Provide creative direction for a two-minute video that will feature the Cruise experience. This video Project Details will be featured in the next launch of the website on the home page. Deliverables Storyboards, final two-minute video in HD Requirements Create a two-minute video that speaks in an inviting voice and delivers inspiring music and visual design Goals of the content Increase cruise signups Content Experience Requirements Clearer messaging, more interactive content Analytics & Metrics Increased page views and time on page Key Success Factors/Measurement Strategy Increased cruise signups The web presence will continue to position the client with a differentiated identity, educating and Business Objectives leading the cruise-travel market in the deluxe category for experienced and quality-focused travelers. Consumer Objectives Reach more of the HH1 150K+ market Creative Objectives Produce a best-in-class web experience that is significantly better than the client’ s competitors’ . Boomers and matures (age 50+) who have the time, net worth and interest; HHI 150K+; experienced Target Audience travelers; and cruisers looking for a unique cruise experience. Legal Mandatories All appropriate disclaimers Friday 8/03: Video project kickoff Project Timelines/Milestones Wed 8/08: Review draft Wed 8/08: Deliver brief and storyboard to client for approval Messaging Experience the impeccable ship detail and personalized on-board service unique to our client. While there are a number of cruise lines catering to HH1 150+, there is a lack of perceived value, Competitive Landscape which we hope to address. Key frames of the video sequence will show specific parts of the ship that the viewer (“our guest”) Aesthetics (look and feel) will experience as the video plays, while also leveraging photographic elements taken during a recent cruise. Key images are supported with descriptive text and related transition scenes. CONTENT STRATEGY csa © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 ALLIANCE 21.Pages Best Practice ID Version Created Author Template ID & Link gmp-pln-bp 01. MAR-2015 CSA-BPC gmp-pln-tmpl-01 1 of 1 Governance Model The governance model is the structure and plan that specifies the responsibilities, rules and processes by which content will be created, monitored and updated. A governance model for content should: • Ensure the quality of content throughout the organization. • Review, approve and oversee content changes. • Recommend changes. • Oversee and approve all tools. • Communicate policy changes. To Review an Existing Governance Model: • Analyze what is successful about any existing governance model and process. • Identify gaps and challenges with the existing structure. • Decide if you are keeping that structure. Create a Governance Model: • Decide on a governance model type: o Centralized Model—All content, strategies and processes are controlled by a single organizational structure. o Federated Model—Different organizational business units control or govern their own content, strategies and processes. o Hybrid Model— All content, strategies and processes are controlled by a single source, but distinct lines of business write and recommend standards for their own content and then roll up to the centralized authority. • Set up the governance committee that will oversee all aspects of content governance. • Appoint an executive sponsor, preferably someone who directly represents executive management interests or someone who has direct access to and proven credibility with senior management. This person is the ultimate escalation point for arbitration on unresolved issues. • Set up working groups to handle processes that have shorter cycle times if needed, e.g., taxonomy, content calendar, omnichannel, SEO and technology. • Set up the core team: the executive sponsor invites, appoints or takes recommendations for representatives from existing content stakeholder functions and departments, business units, working groups, customer representation groups, etc. • Define and document responsibilities. • Decide how often the governance committee will meet.   CONTENT STRATEGY © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 22. csa ALLIANCE Pages Best Practice ID Version Created Author Example ID & Link gmp-pln-bp 01. MAR-2015 CSA-BPC gmp-pln-xmpl-01 1 of 1 Governance Model Example CONTENT STRATEGY csa © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 ALLIANCE 23. Example Name Example ID & Version Phase Creation Date GOVERNANCE MODEL EXAMPLE gmp-pln-xmpl-01 PLANNING MARCH, 2015 INSTRUCTIONS Governance Role Code Governance Body Individual Members Organizational Role Accountabilities Meeting Frequency Authorities Reports to 0.0 Executive Sponsor John Smith Chief Marketing Officer Leads the Governance Committee. Acts 1 per quarter Holds executive authority over all Executive Management CREATING THE GOVERNANCE MODEL When creating a as the primary liaison between the content governance decisions and Head of Committee governance structure, you must first determine which type of organization & the GC solutions structure will best support the organization's needs. Typically, two approaches are used in content governance: a centralized 0.1 Governance Committee Jane Sweet Head of Content Has oversight of the end to end content 1 per quarter Has the veto vote on content, Content Governance Gov Committee and a federated model. Sometimes a hybrid of the two is lifecycle oversight of the content calendar Committee Management Team effective as well. working group Member 0.1 Governance Committee Bill Davis Compliance officer Ensures that content meets regulatory, 1 per quarter Veto Vote on Content Compliance Content Governance Gov Committee Centralized Model —All content, strategies, and processes are statutory and organizational standards and risk Committee Management Team controlled by a single organizational structure. and procedures Member 0.1 Governance Committee Georgina Gupta Senior Marketing Manager Ensures that content aligns with the 1 per quarter Veto Vote on Brand alignment and Content Governance Federated—Different organizational business units control or Gov Committee brand(s) message oversight of the channel strategy Committee govern their own content, strategies, and processes. Management Team working group Member Hybrid—All content, strategies, and processes are controlled Gov Committee 0.1 Governance Committee Jacques Larouge Customer Service officer Oversight of customer service and 1 per quarter Veto vote of user experience. Content Governance by a single source, but distinct lines of business write and engagement activities Oversight of the UX & usability Committee Management Team recommend standards for their own content. These roll up to working group Member the centralized authority. Regardless of the type of model 0.1 Governance Committee Indra Sanjay Senior Technical Officer Acts as liaison between IT and all 1 per quarter Oversight of the SEO, Analytics and Content Governance Gov Committee your organization chooses, a content governance model Management Team content format, channel and delivery optimization working groups Committee should contain the following roles: management systems & software Member 1.0 Content Calendar Working Jessica Mapplethorpe Web Content Editor Leads the Content Calendar working 1 per month Approves changes to Content Jane Sweet: Head of Executive Sponsor —The evangelist for content governance throughout the enterprise. The executive sponsor is the Group group. Holds veto vote on content Calendar content Head of Working Group ultimate escalation point for arbitration on unresolved issues published by the governance committee. 1.1 Content Calendar Working Gill Marcus Content Engineer Has oversight on all personalization and 1 per month Recommends on personalization Jane Sweet: Head of Group localization strategies and localization solutions content Working Group Member A Governance Committee —Comprised of several key stakeholders and owners of content. The governance 1.1 Content Calendar Working Gina DeSousa Senior Copywriter Oversight all content creation 1 per month assigns content creation work and Jane Sweet: Head of committee defines, sets, oversees and enforces all content Group scheduling and updates recommends on style guidelines content Working Group Member policies, standards and aspects of the content governance ecosystem. Working Groups to Support the Committee —Creates and oversees the standards, documentation and processes for specific functions assigned by and on behalf of the governance committee.Pages Best Practice ID Version Created Author Template ID & Link sons-pln-bp 01. MAR-2015 CSA-BPC sons-pln-tmpl-01 1 of 1 Stakeholder Interview/Organizational Needs Survey   Stakeholder interviews/organizational needs surveys are interviews with the people responsible for the content or the overall project (stakeholders). The goal is to find out what and how much content currently exists, the content requirements (word count; image, video and downloadable file sizes, etc.), business requirements and possibly the technical requirements. Create a Stakeholder Interview/Survey: • Identify key stakeholders who are empowered to make decisions. • Create a list of content, business and technical questions to ask. Be sure to find out what background material is available, decisions have been made, issues that need to be addressed, pain points and what stakeholders want to change or add. Reference: Nichols, Kevin P. Content Strategy — Current State Analysis and Stakeholder Interview Protocol CONTENT STRATEGY csa © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 ALLIANCE 24.Pages Best Practice ID Version Created Author Example ID & Link sons-pln-bp 01. MAR-2015 CSA-BPC sons-pln-xmpl-01 1 of 1 Stakeholder Interview/Org anizational Needs Survey Example Example Name Example ID & Version Phase Creation Date STAKEHOLDER INTERVIEW TEMPLATE sons-pln-tmpl-01 ASSESSING MARCH, 2015 (Reprinted from: http://kevinpnichols.com/downloads/kpn_current_state_stakeholder_protocol.pdf) CONTENT INVENTORY & SCOPE QUESTIONS RESPONSES COMMENTS Do you have a list of all the different types of content that you work with? Is there a sitemap (for websites) or any 1 information architecture work that we can leverage to determine the content types and scope? Yes Have you performed any inventories or audits that we could 2 leverage to determine the scope of the content we must consider? Yes Do you use content inventories and auditing as an ongoing 3 process (e.g., annual audits) to evaluate the ongoing efficacy of your content and its performance? We do not do them on an ongoing basis. Should we? Can you help us create a comprehensive list of content types 4 that your organization works with (if the list is not pre- existing)? We will send you the list 5 In terms of quantity and volume, how much content is there? Approximately 100000 pages have been indexed. We are not sure how much is different templates. It's sort of all over the place. What is the frequency and amount of content published (this 6 can be to any and all properties being considered)? Content is published every day. We have an editorial calendar we can supply to you. Note: This is a multi-page document. To view the entire example, you will need to click on the Example ID & Link above or refer to the “How to use this book” page for further downloading and viewing options. CONTENT STRATEGY csa © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 ALLIANCE 25.Pages Best Practice ID Version Created Author Template ID & Link csr-pln-bp 01. MAR-2015 CSA-BPC csr-pln-tmpl-01 1 of 1 Content Strategy Roadmap A content strategy roadmap plots the short-, mid- and long-term goals for a content strategy initiative. This tool can help prioritize content initiatives and present an overarching vision with achievable, incremental projects. A roadmap should also include a long-term vision and show the projects along a timeline that will help you arrive at the desired goals. Create a Content Strategy Roadmap: • Refer back to the projects, goals and objectives defined in the content brief or other documents (e.g., the contract or statement of work). • Be sure to include necessary elements from your business strategy, editorial calendar and upcoming business initiatives such as campaigns, rollout of new site features, etc. • List any related specific projects such as the rollout of a content management system (CMS) and the short- and long-term vision of these initiatives.   CONTENT STRATEGY csa © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 ALLIANCE 26.Pages Best Practice ID Version Created Author Example ID & Link csr-pln-bp 01. MAR-2015 CSA-BPC csr-pln-xmpl-01 1 of 1 Content Strategy Roadmap Example Example Name Example ID & Version Phase Creation Date ROAD MAP EXAMPLE csr-pln-xmpl-01 PLANNING MARCH, 2015 Jan, Feb, Mar Apr, May, Jun Jul, Aug, Sep Oct, Nov, Dec Jan, Feb, Mar Apr, May, Jun Vision NOTES Element Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Specifyor Customize Workflow and or Researchand test CMS Hire New Implement new CMS Training New CMS In Place options Architecture with supplier CMS Manager Inventory & Audit Content Migration Conduct Inventory & Audit Upload Content to new CMS Update and Create New Content Completed Localization Project for global Assess Market Language Define Localization Workflows TranslateContent markets Requirements Legend Horizontal Arrows Indicate the order or flow of sequential Supplier Develop Partner events or processes SOURCE ( Shape) Verticalarrows show dependencies: In the cases Existing Planned Unplanned where one event cannot be started or completed until STATUS (Color) another event or task has been completed. CONTENT STRATEGY csa © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 ALLIANCE 27.CONTENT STRATEGY csa ALLIANCE © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 28. ASSESSAssessing Phase his phase will determine the “where, what, who and Twhen” of your content: where it lives; what content you have, if it is original or syndicated and if there are any restrictions on its use; who in your organization “owns” the content and when it is reviewed and updated. You should evaluate the content of your competitors to determine which content you may be missing. CONTENT STRATEGY csa ALLIANCE © Content Strategy Alliance 2015 29.

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